‘Calvary’ Screening In Washington, DC

I enjoy horror and science fiction movies, primarily,  but they’re not the only type that I enjoy.  For instance, John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man, Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor, George Roy Hill’s Slap Shot and Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H are four films that I hold in particularly high esteem.

Which is primarily because they’re so different than what I typically view, which gives me a greater appreciation for them, as well as the movies that I watch more often.

Which is why I the last movie that I saw was Boyhood.  It’s not something that I would normally seek out, but was rewarding in its own way.

The same thing applies to John Michael McDonagh‘s Calvary.  I missed his last film, The Guard, so I want to make sure that I catch his latest.

And what better way than at an Advance Movie Screening!

‘Boyhood’ Review

Boyhood

 

Boyhood Is A Fascinating Movie More Because Of How It Was Made, Than The Movie Itself

I just saw Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and it was pretty interesting, though mostly on the technical level (it was filmed over a period of 12 years); as an exercise in innovative filmmaking.  As a movie meant to engage an audience, it’s way too long–clocking in at almost three hours–and also curiously mistitled because for a movie named ‘Boyhood’ it deals very superficially with the ‘boy,’ of the title, Mason (Ellar Coltrane).

Traditional movies, when you see a young person age any length of time they’re typically played by a younger actor; so to see an actor literally age in front of you is pretty remarkable.

The problem is that Linklater doesn’t do anything–beyond the obvious–with his innovative idea.  Mason and his family go through ups, as well as downs (exemplified mostly by Mason’s mom, Patricia Arquette, and her serial marriages).

The actors all do their jobs well, though Ethan Hawke is particularly welcome as Mason’s father.  The thing is, if you take away the fascinating way that the movie was made, I honestly think Boyhood would be a pretty ordinary drama because when you get down to it the concept–watching a character literally age before our eyes–is the most interesting thing that it has going for it.

Though once you get used to that, which for me happened sometime around the 2 hour mark, when I began to get a bit antsy, and things got a bit less interesting.

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‘Horns’ Teaser Trailer

I don’t get this movie.  There’s a small town, heinous crimes involving young women and someone played by Daniel Radcliffe growing horns.  Horns was written by Joe Hill, who happens to be the son of Stephen King.  He’s probably not as prolific as his dad (which means that he’ll produce a full-length novel only every other week).

What’s in the movie’s favor is that it was directed by Alexandre Aja, who did High Tension, the reboot of The Hills Have Eyes (awesome movie, for my money the most wholesome horror film I have ever seen.  I’d make it mandatory family viewing) and Mirrors.

‘The Prince’ Trailer

From what I can tell from the trailer Brian A. Miller‘s The Prince has nothing at all to do with Machiavelli’s book, which is a pity because I think it would be particularly neat to see a bad guy who treated it as his moral compass.

That being said, the ‘Prince’ is this particular instance is Paul (Jason Patric), who was known by that moniker when he was an assassin.  Now he works as a mechanic–I have no idea why.  It seems to me that it would be good job to take if he wanted to stay under the radar, but seeing that we’re talking about movies and assassins are generally really well-paid, I am not quite seeing it.

In any case, somehow his activities in that prior life are discovered by Omar (Bruce Willis, unfortunately not Michael K. Williams), who apparently had someone he loved killed by the Prince, and wants payback.

So he kidnaps Paul’s daughter.

Now you’re probably wondering if I just forgot to include Liam Neeson, and you’d be right because it does sound like a more morally ambiguous version of Taken.

And what is it with John Cusack, who plays ‘Sam?’  This is the second movie that I have seen him in where he plays second fiddle to another actor.  The first was Frozen Ground, with Nick Cage (great movie, by the way) and now this.  And that’s not meant to be critical of Jason Patric, though Cusack could probably bring a greater earnestness to the role.

And also, doesn’t it also sound like an Antoine Fuqua movie?  It feels like something that he was, at the the very least, considered for because it fits perfectly with the type of films he tends to work on.

Hemlock Grove, Season One Review

 


'Hemlock Grove' LetterRecently I received a letter from Netflix telling me that the second season of Hemlock Grove was coming July 11th, tomorrow.  With that in mind, I thought that I’d do a write-up on the first season.

They were also character posters released, which I included below.

When I first wrote about the series, I emphasized the nature of Netflix productions, which was to release an entire series of a particular show at a time.

So, in preparation for the second series, I have been rewatching, and I don’t think has aged well–which considering that it’s barely over year old isn’t in any way a complement.

The first series revolved around the city of Hemlock Grove, where a animal-like creature that may be a virgulf (an insane werewolf) has begun slaughtering local women.

Though the oddest thing was that the idea of rabid werewolf was the clearest part of the narrative, which isn’t a good sign.

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‘Boyhood’ And Hyperbole In The Twitter Age

I just scored some tickets to Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood today.  It’t not the type of movie I typically go for, but then again, I enjoy sneak previews.  I mention it because I was checking out my Twitter feed, and noticed this Tweet from @IFCFilms:

"Boyhood" Tweet

And Boyhood may indeed be as good as Rolling Stone says it is, though what’s more than likely is that we’re witnessing a bit of hyperbole (It’s early July.  There’s plenty of time for another movie as good, if not better, to come along), which is when you describe someone or something in a particularly exaggerated and/or dramatic fashion.  And in and of itself there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as it’s not too manipulative.  After all, Boyhood is a small movie, competing with others with significantly larger budgets and consumer awareness so positive word-of-mouth can make the difference between box office failure or success.

Though unfortunately hyperbole isn’t limited to just movies and probably has been around as long as there have been humans with reason to exaggerate.

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‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Review

The Purge: Anarchy move poster

The Purge: Anarchy Is A Marked Improvement Over The Original, But There Is So Much Farther That It Could Have Gone

What bothered me most about James DeMonaco‘s 2013 movie The Purge was that after introducing viewers to a United States that had brought record reductions in crime though a once-a-year catharsis known as the Purge it didn’t even try to keep up with it’s entertainingly dystopian concept.

Instead, it became a simple home invasion thriller, though if You’re Next had shown us anything, it’s that that’s not necessarily a bad thing; though what DeMonaco pulled felt too much like a ‘bait-and-switch‘ to not be acknowledged.

He makes up for any such shortcomings in the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy.  You learn that behind the Purge is a cabal known as “The Founding Fathers,” who were apparently voted into power, and somehow–without sending the nation into the depths of fascism–managed to sell people on the idea that if they were able to engage in a night of violence once a night, every year that it would result in not only lower crime statistics, but unemployment as well.

Which makes sense, especially the latter part, when you consider who it is that’s doing the dying.

But the there’s a weakness to the concept:  As Americans we are defined to a very real extent by our excesses.  I mean, why have a can of soda when you can have a Big Glup?  And why stop at a Big Gulp when there’s the Double Big Gulp, which contains more liquid than your stomach can actually hold?  It’s all about making things bigger, and not necessarily better so if ‘purging’ one night a year had such miraculous results, then I am reasonably sure that at the very least someone would have suggested expanding it a full day.  Or a day and a half.  Or two days.

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‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Review

Deliver Us From Evil movie poster

“There Is A Devil, Of This There Is No Doubt.  But Is He Trying To Get In, Or Trying To Get Out?”

One of of the worst horror films that I can recall was 1978′s Cruise Into Terror.  It’s been awhile, but I remember that it starred George Kennedy (going about things in his typically mildly-befuddled fashion) as the captain of a cruise ship.

The ship was also transporting a child-sized Egyptian sarcophagus for some reason.   It contained an evil entity, perhaps even Satan itself.  It never manifested physically, but it’s baneful influence was felt by everyone aboard the ship (kind of like Cthulhu-lite), till someone chucked it overboard.

Two things in particular stuck in my head:  The first was that, when the sarcophagus was sinking to the ocean floor, you clearly see that whatever was within it was breathing (by the sides of the sarcophagus pulsing).

It wasn’t an accident, but it was particularly dumb because a sarcophagus is essentially a very ornate coffin, so the body within isn’t resting directing against it, never mind being constructed in such a fashion that that just isn’t possible.

Though the important thing to remember is that there’s no way to tell if an occupant was breathing or not from the outside.

The other thing was that, when Satan was on its way to Davy Jones’ Locker, a woman said ominously in voiceover:  “There is a Devil, of this there’s no doubt.  But is he trying to get in, or trying to get out?”

And do you know what?  That simple line wedged itself in my teenaged mind, and in retrospect virtually redeemed everything about that damn waste of celluloid.

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‘Wolf Creek 2′ Review

Wolf Creek 2

“Fascinating In Its Own Way, Though Its Relentless And Nihilistic Tone May Turn Viewers Off”

For years people have been scared by the likes of Freddy Krueger, Norman Bates and Jason Vorhees, but let’s be honest:  What they are are cartoon characters.

Sure, somewhat violent cartoons, but cartoons nonetheless.  After all, imagine if someone were coming at you wearing a hockey mask and a huge machete?  Or brandishing finger-claws?  After you confirmed that you weren’t hallucinating, you’d be out of there so fast heads would spin.

Which is why real-life serial killers are so scary:  They look just like you and me.  You probably couldn’t pick them out in a crowd and they certainly don’t run around with knives because that would be too obvious.

Their sinister compulsions lie just beneath the surface, waiting for the right opportunity to make themselves known.

For instance, H. H.  Holmes, believed to be America’s first serial killer, lived from 1861 to 1896.  When he was finally caught, he confessed to 27 murders, and nine were confirmed.

Though it was suspected that he actually killed at least 200 people.

Another fact that’s the opposite to what popular culture tells us is that serial killers aren’t disfigured monsters.  In fact, more often than not, they tend to be very charismatic and charming.

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‘The Anomaly’ Trailer

Did you see 2002′s Kurt Wimmer movie, Equilibrium?  In adverts it looked like it a copy of the The Matrix (and in some reviews as well, which never quite made sense to me), which I though was a bit unfair.  It wasn’t as innovative–from a special effects standpoint at least–but was pretty engaging in its own right.

Looking at the trailer for The Anomaly though…it looks exactly like a Matrix retread; there’s no way around it.

In fact, if you look during the fight scenes, they appear to be in slow-motion, though the trailer is cut in such a way to disguise the fact.

Though, like Equilibrium, I assume (and hope) that the movie has more to offer than what is apparently, the obvious.